Business

Trump to end waivers on Iran oil imports

WASHINGTON The US announced yesterday it will no longer grant sanctions exemptions to Iran's oil customers, potentially punishing allies as it tries to squeeze Teheran's top export.

The White House said Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates - US allies that back President Donald Trump's hawkish stance against regional rival Iran - would work to make up the difference in oil to ensure global markets are not rocked.

"This decision is intended to bring Iran's oil exports to zero, denying the regime its principal source of revenue," the White House said in a statement.

"The Trump administration and our allies are determined to sustain and expand the maximum economic pressure campaign against Iran to end the regime's destabilising activity threatening the United States, our partners and allies and security in the Middle East," it said.

Eight governments were initially given six-month reprieves from the unilateral US sanctions on Iran. They include India, which has warm ties with Washington but disagrees on the US insistence that Iran is a threat.

Other countries that will be affected include China and Turkey, opening up new friction in contentious relationships if the US goes ahead with sanctions.

The others - Greece, Italy, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan - have already heavily reduced their purchases from Iran.

Mr Trump last year withdrew the US from an accord under which Iran drastically scaled back its nuclear programme in return for sanctions relief.

The Trump administration, backed by Saudi Arabia and Israel, has unilaterally imposed sanctions and demanded other countries follow suit.

US officials said they are aiming at choking off Iranian revenue to reduce the regime's regional clout, notably its support for militants groups such as Lebanon's Hezbollah. - AFP

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